Police arrest Jagera traditional owner defending the sacred fire

"This is a country very concerned about making things 
seem to happen without actually doing anything.
They like to talk about progress,
but that comes at a cost,
and the cost is on us" 
    — Kevin Vieritz at first Sovereignty & Land Rights
      Conference in Brisbane in November 2012

On 18 Dec 2012 police arrested Jagera (Yugara/Yugarapul) traditional owner on his own land for lighting the sacred fire in Musgrave Park. In the Joh Bjelke-Petersen days (1969-1989), Musgrave Park was a reserve for the purposes of sports and recreation until 1998, when a portion at the south end of the park was excised and given a different purpose – that being “for Aboriginal cultural, heritage and historical purposes”. It is on this land that Qld police arrested Kevin Vieritz – Jagera traditional owner.

Police said the traditional owner was “under arrest for breaching the peace” when he was peacefully going about custom on his own land, the deed of grant in trust to Jagera people for a cultural centre. After a half an hour in the police van, Kevin Vieritz was released. This in itself is an admission of the unlawful nature of his arrest and detention. Police issued an order that he was not permitted to walk on his land for 4 hours. In making this order police were transported to the height of absurdity and disrespect by their masters.

Musgrave Park is an extraordinary place; it is the spiritual home of many tribes; it is where the sacred fire of ancestors still burns in the Sovereign Tent Embassy that was launched again in March 2012 and survived the eviction by local, state and police authorities on May 16, 2012. In the heart of south Brisbane and West End it is the natural place for people to gather and to share.

Musgrave Park itself is (sadly) called a DOGIT  lease (Deed of Grant in Trust), with Brisbane City Council being the trustees.

On May 16 2012 Coco Wharton was arrested in Musgrave Park South Brisbane with about 30 other people. They were defending the sacred fire of their ancestors. They had conducted corroboree and sung their ancestors into the fire. 250 Queensland police armed with pistols, pepper spray and tasers evicted first nation people from Musgrave Park on that day.

murri boy

Jagera is a tribe of people who inhabit the region southwest of the city of Brisbane (including Musgrave Park in South Brisbane) before and after European settlement of Australia.The Jagera are alternately known as Yagara, Yuggera or Jagara. Much of their land overlaps with that of the neighbouring Turrbal tribe. Former senator Neville Bonner was a tribal elder of the Jagera people.

Aboriginal Deed of Grant in Trust at Musgrave Park, South Brisbane

There is a common misunderstanding that all DOGITs are for Aboriginal people, but this is not so. Former aboriginal reserves and missions (e.g. Palm Island) which were governed under the repressive ‘Queensland Acts’ are now under DOGIT leases.

Musgrave Park itself is all a DOGIT (Deed of Grant in Trust), with Brisbane City Council being the trustee.

Musgrave was all a DOGIT reserve for the purposes of sports and recreation until 1998, when a portion at the south end of the park was excised and given a different purpose – that being “for Aboriginal cultural, heritage and historical purposes”.

Former Speaker of the Qld Parliament, Mike Reynolds, signs the Sorry Day reconciliation map at Jagera Arts Hall, Musgrave Park, February, 2008.

Nothing was ‘handed over’, in the sense of real ownership or entitlement.

A 30 year lease was going to be signed over the site where the tennis courts are now, to allow for the building of a cultural centre, but I am not sure what happened with that lease. Of course the cultural centre never went ahead. The recipients of the lease remain unclear – under attorney general Matt Foley it was to be either Arts Qld (state government) or the management committee of Musgrave Park Cultural Centre. I suspect it went to Arts Queensland but have no proof.

This DOGIT became the subject of  litigation in the Supreme Court of Qld where Turrubul people contested the granting of the lease to the Jagera people on the grounds that Turrubul people had been massacred in Musgrave Park and that this gave them a claim on the land where ancestors were buried.

Land tenure DOGITs.doc

[Please note that the best people to ask about various claims over land is aboriginal people themselves]

Ian Curr
19 Dec 2012


Sandy on behalf of the Yugara/Yugarapul People v State of Queensland

Turrbal People v State of Queensland

3 thoughts on “Police arrest Jagera traditional owner defending the sacred fire

  1. Urgent Community Meeting says:

    Community meeting Yugambeh dreaming center 558 Kingston road Kingston, please share this post the meeting is on at 7pm, 20/12/12 show your support for the loss of one of our young people who’s life was sadly taken from us, by thugs whom Police allow to roam with there red and blue trade mark clothing and call them ‘selfs’, ‘the bloods’ and ‘crips’, the police have known about these gangs in Logan for more than a year, they boast that they are proud to kill Aboriginals.

    I ask people to show your support at this meeting and donate some money to help the family bury our young brother please, further details to be posted, if we don’t show our support this will continue, help Logan elders stop this now and protect our families, cause the Police cannot do it.

    The government cannot stop it don’t rely on them, We want Justice now.

  2. Kevin Vieritz says:

    In today’s society there’s far too much value placed on the dollar, our culture is dying at an alarming rate and everyone is looking for a hand-out rather than demanding a hand-up from the Gubba (the foreign invader).

    The Gubba is always willing to give us handouts, and this keeps us at a subsistence level. They won’t give us a hand up because they want to keep us down; here’s your welfare check, now stay in your place!


    This country is occupied under a false premise – TERRA NULLIUS. Because the original founding premise is false, that means all the other white man’s laws are illegitimate. By going to their courts, you legitimise their unlawful occupancy of our lands.

    To illustrate – blacks in the Northern Territory had gained back a lot of their land via the Land Rights Act 1976. In 2007, Howard the Coward used the existing laws in the Australian Constitution (section 51xxxvi – the ‘race’ power) to steal back that land that we fought for and won.

    All these big mining companies get what they want when it comes to the weak and useless Native Title process.

    This is our country, our land – we should be the ones running the show, we should be the ones at the top. But if we are ever to return to this position, it will take a lot of hard work on our part. We need to restore the blackfella’s way of living, with value placed on family not money. We need our own essential services in areas like health and education to be effective. We need to have our kids learning our values, our culture and our social norms in schools. We need proper government representation to regain control of our lands. None of these aspirations can be attained without a TREATY between the sovereign natives of this land and the foreign invaders.

    by Kevin Vieritz (Jaggera elder)

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